Friday, August 15, 2008

Oil and natural gas shale booms in the US may happen, but at what environmental cost?


I remember that a distant family member received some income from a gas well on her farm near Wellington, Ohio as far back as the 60s. Plenty of people have throughout the Midwest, and recently there is an new oil book in North Dakota. The deposit of Bakken Shale, with 4.3 billion barrels to recover from underneath the Badlands, is probably the largest single domestic deposit only. MSN top stocks had written about this on April 10, 2008, here. It’s interesting that this was reported while investors were driving up futures prices last spring, almost blind to the news. The International Herald Tribune had written about Stanley, ND on New Years Day, “as oil follows in North Dakota, a boom and burdens follow,” link here.

When I worked in Minneapolis, one of our branches was in Bismarck, ND, and workers from there had called it “God’s country.”

Now, the attention is moving further east, to the natural gas buried in Applachia, all the way to the “Ridge and Valley Province,” in a formation called the Marcellus Shale, some of it two miles down. The Washington Post story Aug. 15 by Joel Achenbach, “Traditional Energy’s Modern Boom: High prices are driving increased extraction of oil and other fossil fuels,” link here. It doesn’t seem from the report that the “eastern shale” will add to the massive stripmining for coal that is removing mountaintops and ridges on the western side of Appalachia. Shale is supposedly intrinsically dirty to mine, and experiments in Colorado in the early 80s did not go well.

This all comports well with the "Pickens Plan," doesn't it!

Second Picture: Oil Shale mining in Alberta

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